After the blast I had while playing Zero Gunner, I couldn't wait to try out its sequel, now on a real console instead of an emulator, so I popped the game in, turned on the Dreamcast, and...well, I liked some things but there's also some stuff that I really hate, so in the end I guess I have mixed feelings about this one.
To start with the good things, this game is beautiful. Really. Sometimes I end up forgetting just how powerful the Dreamcast is, and when I see it in action it blows me away. The textures are very detailed, the models have a great design to them, in that arcade fashion that only the Dreamcast seems to show, and the stages are really unique and impressive.
The gameplay is also very enjoyable for the most part, but the rotation system just fucks it all up. Unlike in the original ZG, where you would first lock onto an enemy and then rotate around him, here there's no lock-on system and you freely rotate your choopper. So far, so good. The problem is in the way this is done. To rotate you have to hold a button (thus stop firing) and then use the d-pad to rotate your ship. Now imagine doing this when all hell is broking loose around you! It's confusing, unintuitive and worse, it will most certainly make you loose lives, because you'll get so disoriented you'll loose any sense of direction and invariably run into enemy fire.
Unfortunately this is necessary, since enemies (and sometimes bosses) come from all directions, and sometimes the screen moves sideways or down instead of up. Shit... To make things worse, although this game offers many difficulty options, even the easiest setting is hard as hell. After two unsuccessful tries where I would always end up running out of credits in the last level, I thought "fuck it" and resorted to my life-saver, the Code Breaker cheat disc. With unlimited lives I eventually was able to beat the fucking game, but I immediately put it back in the shelter, since there's no extra modes to keep you busy, only a replay mode where you watch a previously saved game.
I may seem angry at this game for being so hard, but that's not the case. Hey, Under Defeat it fucking hard, I was never able to beat it, and I still love it. My problem with Zero Gunner 2 is that it's not only hard due to unforgiving enemies, but also due to a fucking control scheme that makes no sense! You don't loose because you suck, you loose because the control scheme to rotate the damn chopper is insanely unintuitive and impractical, and that's basically my major complaint about this game. Of course you can eventually get the hang of it you practice enough, but I doubt it's worth it when the Dreamcast as such an awesome library of shooters.
I would still recommend it to shmup fans, but be prepared for a challenge.